New Jaguars regime focused on balancing the offense with an improved running game
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jaguars' run-to-pass ratio was as lopsided as it gets last season.
The team threw the ball 626 times, which was good for 61.5 percent of the team's overall offensive plays. That is troubling when you consider that quarterback Blake Bortles only completed 58.9 percent of his passes last season.
While the running game was abysmal last year, the Jaguars were likely too quick to abandoned the rushing attack. Running backs T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory averaged just 3.7 yard per carry as a duo, but far too often the blame fell on the offensive line and the lack of creative play-calling.
The Jaguars' new regime is determined to find more balance on offense.
New Jaguars Executive VP of Football Operations Tom Coughlin believes in setting up the passing game with the rushing attack. He knows the Jaguars need to be better on the ground.
Most importantly, the play-calling must consistently feature the running game.
"I don’t think you’re helping the quarterback at all when you don’t rush the football," Coughlin said during a press conference on Friday.
"I think for our team to be successful in this division, noting that there are teams who will come in and run the ball and try to hold the ball, keep your offense on the sideline. We need to be able to do some of that as well. It’s easy to say that it’s a correctable thing, but as you know in this league, you get behind, you’re trying to find ways to get back in the game as fast as you can, no matter if its three points or 10 points.”
When asked about Yeldon and Ivory, Coughlin didn't mince words.
“I think we have to play better," Coughlin said.
Coughlin and new head coach Doug Marrone are considering the addition of a fullback to help improve the running back play. Both Marrone and Coughlin are avowed old school football minds and adding a lead blocker would certainly help open up holes in defensive fronts.
“Fullbacks have been discussed," Coughlin said.
"We have talked about those that are available. We have benefited in my circumstance a couple of times from very good free agent fullbacks, college free agent fullbacks who, not being in a position of demand, were available. And to a team that believes in that personnel concept, that’s important."
Coughlin knows the league has mostly moved away from the fullback position. However, he believes the position is still valuable for a team like the Jaguars.
"Our league has almost gone completely the other way with the three [wide receivers playing] 65 to 70 percent of the time," Coughlin said.
"I believe there’s a place still for multiple personnel combinations and the ability to utilize the fullback. There’s different ways of doing that as you know. The third tight end many times can accomplish that. Not quite the ram-rod blocker that you’re looking for, but the guy that can split into the flat."
There are several talented veteran fullbacks in free agency. From Atlanta's Patrick DiMarco to Baltimore's Kyle Juszczyk, the Jaguars have the money to add a proven lead blocker.
If the squad is looking to upgrade at running back, this year's draft class will certainly offer opportunities. Florida State's Dalvin Cook and LSU's Leonard Fournette should go as early as the Top 5 picks. However, there is more to be had outside of the top two backs.
Mid-round talent like Toledo's Kareem Hunt, Clemson's Wayne Gallman and South Florida's Marlon Mack could all add something dynamic to the Jaguars' offense.
The Jaguars will have plenty of opportunities to curb their running game woes this offseason. With the new regime making the rushing attack a priority, the Jaguars may finally be able to control the clock and the scoreboard.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.